USITT approved free stage rigging inspections and safety training for a dozen more schools this spring through its Rigging Safety Initiative.
With its first round of funding for 2014, USITT brings stage safety to schools in New York State, Massachusetts, Illinois, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, and Missouri.
Recent reports of professional stage rigging accidents have only strengthened USITT’s goal to implement best safety practices at the high school level -- by offering free inspections and safety training to schools across the country.
Now in its fourth year, USITT’s Rigging Safety Initiative began with a $10,000 grant from JR Clancy in 2011. USITT has since approved funding for 77 schools in 24 states, with more on a waiting list.
USITT approves 10 to 12 applications twice a year, in spring and fall.
The schools approved for spring 2014 are:
- In New York State, Putnam Valley High School in Putnam Valley, Waterloo High School in Waterloo, and Unatego Central School in Otego.
- In Massachusetts, North Andover High School in North Andover and Marblehead High School in Marblehead.
- In Illinois, Amos Alonzo Stagg High School in Palos Hills and J. Sterling Morton High School in Berwyn.
- Countryside High School in Clearwater, Florida; Muskegon High School in Muskegon, Michigan; Annandale High School in Annandale, Minnesota, and Excelsior Springs High School in Excelsior Springs, Missouri.
Because OSHA rules requiring annual inspections of professional stage rigging don’t apply to schools, many go years without inspection.
Amy Sparks, Theatre Director at Annandale High School, reported that her theatre’s 22-line counterweight rigging system has missing hardware and “possible overload.”
The school’s rigging system was installed in 2000, and Sparks is unsure if it’s ever been inspected.
“The Annandale School District and larger community will benefit greatly from USITT’s Rigging Safety Initiative, as each year more than 10,000 people use our auditorium space,” Sparks said.
“This program will not only work to keep people safe by bringing attention to our rigging system, but will also help students and adults in the district learn how to safety use and confidently employ this incredible theatre tool.”
USITT, the United States Institute for Theatre Technology, is the national non-profit association for backstage professionals in the performing arts and entertainment. USITT membership offers networking, training, and support for theatre-related causes.